Posts in Lessons

There's only so many things around the house that are interesting enough to photograph. If you follow me on Facebook you obviously know my obsession with photographing my dog Bailey. And if you know me personally you know that aside from photography, I also enjoy playing the drums. But how many boring old shots of my drum set can I take? That's when I came up with the idea to make my first attempt at a composite photograph.

The final project looks like this.

Multiplicity on the Drum set

I just wanted to take a little bit of time to explain how I was actually able to make this shot. First and foremost, I'm so thankful to have a pretty neat attic as a backdrop. The old wood up there is really photogenic in my opinion. Since this is a composite photograph most of you are able to figure out that this is actually a number of shots all stitched together through the power of Photoshop.

The biggest key to making a shot like this work is consistency. In order to achieve the desired affect I had to make good use of a sturdy tripod. Because if the camera were to movie during any point of this shoot, it would have made it a lot more difficult to piece together. Aside from having a sturdy tripod, I had to make sure the camera settings were not going to change at all during the entire session. So in order to keep each shot in focus, from the back of the room, to the front of the room, I had to use a small aperture. I chose to go with f/16 because that was the smallest I could go to, while still maintaining a proper shutter speed. If you are interested in learning about photography and want to know more about aperture, check out this link

I should quickly mention, since you will notice in the individual pics to follow, my lighting set-up is not very spohisticated at all. I had two spotlights on the ground, and one spotlight over head. So now with a couple test shots and my lighting all set up it was time to figure out how I was going to position each piece of the drum set. This step was fairly easy I just moved each piece into position, would run back and take a quick shot to make sure everything was focused and that there wasn't much overlap between each part. Then I simply marked off on the ground each piece's position with clear tape so I would be able to place it correctly when it was time to photograph.

From this point on it was fairly simple. First, a picture of the entire room emptied out. This would serve as the base photo where I would later stitch the other smaller pieces.

Then, I would simple grab one piece of the drum set, put it into position, and start snapping about 5-10 pictures of whatever random poses came into my head. I would then clear out that piece, bring in the next piece, and start the same process over again. During this entire time, keep in mind, the camera should not be touched and no settings should be changed. You want all of these shots to be perfectly consistent.

Here are 4 of the poses that didn't make it into the final cut, but I thought they would still be fun to share with you.

With all the pictures taken, I then processed them in Lightroom, before moving them over to Photoshop. As for explaining my process in Photoshop  I don't think I could do a good enough job, so check out this article for a simplified way to make a composite image in Photoshop.

If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will try to answer them as best as possible. Also please feel free to leave me any ideas you might have for other composite shots you would like to see me do.

Have to start somewhere

I know i've only been doing paid shoots for a little over a year, and in all honesty I don't have a huge amount of photo shoots to highlight in a blog. But I thought it would be fun to show you some of the photo shoots that I feel have helped me grow the most into the photographer I am today. And what better place to start than the beginning. 

Now, I have to ask you all for a couple of favors... A) Don't laugh and B) Don't judge me based on the couple of pictures i'm going to show you here in this post.

So a little set-up first. If you've read my first post you know that Jen and I bought our dSLR in the fall of 2010. During the first year with the camera I had learned a lot and I was feeling pretty comfortable. I was still shooting with the stock lens (Nikkor 18-55mm) but was doing just fine with it because most everything I had shot was outdoors. Cubs game, camping, disc golfing , brother-in-laws little league game. 

If I haven't mentioned it before, I have the greatest and most generous friends on this planet. Ryan and Patti welcomed their first born in the summer of 2011 and knowing I was obsessed with photography they asked if I would be interested in taking pictures of Arianna. At this point the thought of becoming a photographer and actually making money off of it were no where in my head. This was simply something fun to photograph and i'd be able to provide good friends of mine with great pictures of their little one. Little did we both know I had a lot to learn.

Bright Flash = Bad Picture

As most photographers will tell you, photographing inside a building with very little window light, a stock lens, and no artificial light sources other than your stock on-camera flash  is nearly impossible. I underestimated what my capabilities were with my equipment. The results were a whole album of extremely dark pictures, too bright of pictures because I tried using my flash, or such noisy pictures that made them virtually unusable. The lesson I learned immediately, light is a neccessity in photography. "The moment you take the leap of understanding to realize you are not photographing a subject, but are photographing light, is when you have control over the medium." - Daryl Benson

Must not break baby

Next problem, this is a newborn!!! I have not been around a baby, let alone a child in years! Just ask all my friends that have recently become parents, i'm terrified of breaking their babies and it's hard to even get me to hold them. Now you want me to photograph them, and pose them, and move them? I was completely lost as to how to position Arianna to let her cuteness really shine. Lesson immediately learned, research research research!!! It would have helped if I took the time to look up other newborn photos to get ideas on how to pose a baby. Now before any shoot i'll spend a large amount of time researching and just viewing image after image to make sure i'm loaded with endless ideas and poses. Pinterest is great for this by the way! And one additional lesson, get comfortable holding babies!

I will praise myself on one thing, patience. I had read that newborn shots were among the most difficult based on the needs of a baby. Let's just say Arianna did not make it easy on any of us. But that was one of my favorite parts of the entire shoot. I was there with two good friends and I was a part of some very special intimate moments they shared with their little bundle of joy, even if she wasn't quite co-operating with our plans for the day. Just a quick side note, thank you to my sister for instilling a great amount of patience in me growing up, it really helps during photo shoots like this one.

One of the few decent shots...

But the most thanks go to Ryan and Patti, if it wasn't for you asking me to do this photo shoot  chances are this website is not here, this blog is not here, and this passion of mine might have just faded into the darkness like many others before it have. And the craziest part was I was so embarrassed by these pictures I didn't even share the 3 or so good ones I got from the shoot with them until a year later when I put it on their disc of pictures from Arianna's 1 year shoot. Oh yeah, you heard that correctly! They asked me to photograph Arianna's 1 year portraits, after my massive failure during this shoot. And guess what, those pics were absolutely stunning if I can say so myself. Thank you for the first chance and the second chance Ryan and Patti. And thank you to Arianna for being so beautiful.

That's better!